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Home > Topics > EMS Training
November 13, 2013

Study: Hand-washing rates low among EMS personnel

Out of 1,500 EMTs, 13 percent reported cleaning their hands before patient contact, and 52 percent reported wearing gloves

CBS News

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — A new study shows only 13 percent of emergency medical providers reported cleaning their hands before patient contact, according to the study from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J.

"What we found was a little concerning," Dr. Josh Bucher, a resident at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital and one of the study's authors, told The study, which was administered through an online survey and distributed via email to national and regional emergency medical organizations, looked at almost 1,500 EMS providers. The results revealed a number of troubling trends.

Only 52 percent of emergency care respondents, which includes first responders, emergency medical providers, paramedics and a small portion of physicians, reported that they wear gloves with every patient contact.

Full story: Hand-washing rates low among emergency medical personnel, study finds

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Xander Mann Xander Mann Wednesday, November 13, 2013 3:14:11 PM Must have not noticed the sink in the back if my rig, my bad.
Jessica Gourley-York Jessica Gourley-York Wednesday, November 13, 2013 4:33:00 PM How is this surprising? Ambulances don't have running water just hand sanitizer and gloves.
Jake Stein Jake Stein Wednesday, November 13, 2013 9:15:27 PM Wow Xander and Jessica! Want to make EMS look even dumber with those lame comments? Don't you take patients to a hospital or some facility? It is rare to ever see an EMT or Paramedic ever use the sink between dropping off the patients. What about the alcohol solutions available? What about the part about not wearing gloves? Jessica, what ambulance in the year 2013 does not have gloves on it? Isn't it time EMS stops with the stupid excuses for poor patient care? It is time to be accountable for the type of patient care. But then, it has always been known that ambulances probably spread the bugs from facility to facility. It is about time someone finally defies the wall of silence and ignorance of EMS to bring this to light.
Gabriel Jbreel Hess Gabriel Jbreel Hess Thursday, November 14, 2013 11:27:43 AM So, is this a hoax, or was it posted by someone who has never set foot in an ambulance? Because while I can understand folks in the medical field having a major disconnect here, I cannot understand why anyone who is regularly riding an ambulance would not catch why there's something wrong here, and I just figured here on that whoever was writing/posting these articles was actually in EMS.
Donna Connelly Donna Connelly Tuesday, December 03, 2013 12:06:03 PM my god i washed my hands so much they would get so dry they would cracked and burn and often hurt....even so dry they bleed a tiny bit a few times...i started ems back in the day AIDs first came out and no one knew a thing about it, that alone made most of us from that era become huge believers in washing your hands and keeping uniforms clean. It also became a common personal practice I did through my entire career 20+yrs later. I still wash my hands often even though I am not in EMS anymore. I wash when i get home from stores, anywhere that i touched doors, gas pumps..anything that has had others touching never know who does and who does not wash their hands after bowel movements...having sex....using drugs.......yeah if you thought about those thoughts alone you would WASH YOUR DAMN HANDS regularly.
Donna Connelly Donna Connelly Tuesday, December 03, 2013 12:06:40 PM you are in and out of places that do have running water and soap and are in a running vehicle that can always stop at a place that has running water and soap
Jessica Gourley-York Jessica Gourley-York Tuesday, December 03, 2013 12:48:51 PM Read the article you are going off on your own little tangent. The article is not about the frequency of hand washing, but rather if hands are washed immediately before patient contact.
Donna Connelly Donna Connelly Tuesday, December 03, 2013 1:22:40 PM Jessica Gourley-York your hands should be clean when you go on a call.......end of story.. i read the damn article........i have concluded that medics have gotten lazy and irresponsible now days..and me being pissed over medics having dirty hands is not a "tangent" it is a legit concern...wash you damn hands and stop making excuses for having dirty hands
Jessica Gourley-York Jessica Gourley-York Tuesday, December 03, 2013 1:36:44 PM Now I have to assume you are joking. You are on your own completely different subject and not the one the study actually covered. EMS's hands are clean when dealing with patients, they are washed multiple times throughout the day and get hand sanitizer and gloves immediately before patient contact. If you were truly ever a medic you would know that is all that is available to us, which is what makes this survey such a joke (everyone else seems to get that other than you). If they asked about the frequency of hand washing the numbers would of been much higher, but fact is you can not stop to wash your hands on the way to a code three. You use sanitizer, gloves, and get the job done. P.S. you should know, if you were a medic, that by washing your hands to the point that they bleed you put yourself and patients in much greater risk (palm against head here)
Donna Connelly Donna Connelly Tuesday, December 03, 2013 11:36:44 PM Jessica Gourley-York i dont think your joking just severely lacking in some basic science and hygiene skills and you have a bit of a ego problem so you must be somewhat new in ems and think the world still revolve around you and the world should bow down to you and see you as a hero of some sorts and never question you or what your doing because you see yourselves as the superior being..oh honey...keep thinking that stuff much glory lies in the world for people with that thought process... i read your nonsense up to the point where you question me ever being a medic......uh you have me as a female which by your name it would suggest your a female but i don't know....but you have me and several other women to thank for paving the way for girls like you today so odds are i was doing this long before you were out of diapers .. while i was out there putting up with sexist men who swore that women did not belong on a ambulance because we could not 'carry our weight'...i had to pick up stretches alone (back before the spoiled stretcher came along you used now days) just look at it and ir rolls in the truck with the patient on it....I had to pick up 100lb stretchers by myself and throw it in the truck...and while i was worried to death about a unknown disease that was killing gay men left and right and no one knew why..where the hell were you? some of you girls now days would not have made it back don't have the balls it takes to be that strong because you and the ones like you are to much of a crybaby now days. Things were a lot different back are proof alone that things were so different. I don't care if you don't believe me, i really don't cause i know exactly where i was and what i was doing ...but little girl let me tell you one would not have it so damn easy if it was not for me and the other women i worked with back then that proved women could do that work..and i know you don't appreciate it, your character proves that.. i have met many of the new female medics now days and they are great......then i have ran across your is for the others i am happy to have paved the road..... and can you not read? read the damn title to the article let me post if for you in case your confused ..... (there is a simple quiz after so pay attention ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Study: Hand-washing rates low among EMS personnel Out of 1,500 EMTs, 13 percent reported cleaning their hands before patient contact, and 52 percent reported wearing gloves ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~` Did you bother reading what they wrote? i did not make up what i said ..i think your the one who did not read this said.....OUT OF 1500 EMTS 13 PERCENT REPORTED CLEANING THEIR HANDS BEFORE PATIENT CARE CONTACT. AND 52% REPORTED WEARING GLOVES... it was the emt THEMSELVES that admitted to not cleaning their hands. And then on top of dirty hands the other 48% with dirty hands don't have the courtesy or respect for the public to even put on gloves.. My god if not to protect yourself to protect a patient.....i did not make this crap up for the sake to argue with you.....believe me watching paint dry would be more entertaining than dealing with a person who gets mad because she has been outed as a medic who has nasty god i did that for years and remember well many not washing their hands even when told to wash their hands and it was normally me that told them..seeing a female medic go pee then not wash her damn nasty hands.....but oh that is all fairy tales according to are just lazy and wrong and you just want to be a damn are part of this new generation of medics (if you really are that is) that just gets into ems so you can have people think your a hero and someone special in this world.......YOUR NOT....NONE OF US ARE..and and dont get into ems to be famous or have people throw a parade in your honor wont happen so get over it........if your really in EMS you really need to get some thicker skin and some really need thicker skin if this little survey from MEDICS is going to get your panties in a get over yourselves and wash your hands..You start iv's and give a poor cancer pt a staph infection and they sue you may remember this article and instead of just wanting to be in the right. i just hope that patients lawyer sees your post on here and really drags your ass over the coals and takes everything you have and then makes you work for them for the next 20 yrs of your life. i bet then just washing your hands wold seem so much more of a simple solution than shaking your fist and feeling wronged A normal person with any common sense might think maybe they dont wash their hands enough....but no......its they are wrong and got the wrong info...what do they know....and your other thousand excuses to not be the ones with dirty hands you want to use......Don't act like in your entire day at work you never pass a sink. see a sink.....wash your and some others are just looking for excuses to look like some poor heroes that are now being victimized by a ungrateful public....well i am now a private citizen an i say wash you damn hands..your not right about this and that is just the facts....medics admit to having dirty hands..Common sense tells you if they are not cleaning them then they are dirty.......yeah you cant be a medic for me to have to explain clean and dirty to you........i am done explaining this to you...........and i really dont want to call you the name i am thinking of you right now.....that would not be cool......not even to hard as that was to say......i am done explaining basic science and hygiene to remedial people

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